We have good intentions about strengthening certain muscles groups in order to have better posture, to be able to lift items easier, to gain a fit look, or to be able to accomplish a goal like running a race. What can we do when we are not getting the strengthening results we were hoping for?

Address the Opposing Muscle Group

If the muscle group opposite of your target muscle group is too tight, it will be difficult to activate your target muscle group. For example, if you want to work on your posture and strengthen your mid back muscles. You spend several hours each week dedicated to getting those muscles stronger. However, you are not getting the results you want. I encourage you to improve the length of the opposing muscle group, the chest muscles, otherwise known as the pectoralis muscles. Below are some options for stretching the pectoralis muscles.

Once you have loosened up those front chest muscles, they will lengthen and therefore make it easier for your mid back muscles to turn on.

I Stretched Out the Opposing Muscle Group with Less Than Ideal Results, Now What?

We cannot expect 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of a few mid back strengthening exercises to strengthen well when we slouch. Consider how you hold yourself throughout the day. Posture matters.

If I strengthen my mid back muscles in the morning, then slouch in the car on the commute to work, then slouch some more throughout my long work day, how do these mid back muscles have a chance? They do not. When slouching, the mid back muscles are put on length, creating a stretch weakness. This lengthened position creates a big disadvantage. Those mid back muscles will not be able to work well.

Therefore, the best solution to avoid this stretch weakness is to sit up straight! If you are having trouble sitting up straight, use a lumbar roll or back support along the small of your back to help keep a neutral spine position. By keeping your spine in neutral, your mid back muscles will be in a great position to function well and gain postural endurance.

Conclusion

When strengthening a target muscle group, first address the opposing muscle group’s length or willingness to lengthen. Also remember the importance of maintaining a good posture throughout the day to improve muscle activation in daily function to improve muscle strength and endurance.

Contact Me

If you need help addressing strength training, postural correction, neck and back pain and you live in Corona, Norco, Eastvale, West Riverside, or Temescal Valley, please contact me at 951.733.6637 or [email protected] for a Physical Therapy Evaluation.

I will help you identify long, weak muscles groups and short, tight muscles groups as well as help you develop an individualized exercise program to tackle these imbalances to allow you to strength better and optimize your health.

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